Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

228                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP.
upon thee, turn not back." Browne, in summing up the
beliefs of this extraordinary man as revealed in his verses,
gives such a masterly description of Sufi thought that I
cannot do better than quote it :
" There is the fundamental conception of God as not
only Almighty and All-good, but as the sole source of
Being and Beauty, and, indeed, the one Beauty and the
one Being, cin Whom is submerged whatever becomes
non-apparent, and by Whose light whatever is apparent
is made manifest/ Closely connected with this is the
symbolic language so characteristic of these, and, indeed,
of nearly all mystics, to whom God is essentially c the
Friend,' c the Beloved,' and c the Darling'; the ecstasy of
meditating on Him c the Wine' and c the Intoxication * ;
His self-revelations and Occulations, c the Face' and c the
Night-black Tresses,' and so forth. There is also the
exaltation of the Subjective and Ideal over the Objective
and Formal, and the spiritualisation of religious obligations
and formulae, which has been already noticed amongst the
Ismailis, from whom, though otherwise strongly divergent,
the Sufis probably borrowed it Last, but not least, is
the broad tolerance which sees Truth in greater or less
measure in all Creeds ; recognises that * the Ways unto
God are as the number of the souls of men' ; and, with
the kter Hafiz, deckres that c any shrine is better than
Jalal-u-Din> RumL—Jakl-u-Din of Rum, or Asia
Minor, is held to be the greatest of all the Sufi poets.
Born at Balkh early in the thirteenth century of our era,
he may be ckimed as yet another of the extraordinary
men of whom Khorasan can justly boast. When he was
five years old, his father Baha-u-Din, a leading theologian,
was forced to leave his home, and, according to the story,
passed through Nishapur, where Attar blessed the boy
and foretold his future feme. Baha-u-Din settled at
Iconium, and on this account the poet was termed Rumi.
His great work, the Masnavi, has exercised more
influence on thought in Iran and Turkey than any other
written in the Persian tongue, and is even spoken of as
1 Op. cit. vol. ii. p. 267,